Friday, March 15, 2013


Hello, my name is Kristen Sween, I'm a Junior at The College of Wooster, and this is my second time volunteering with Trinity UCC in Tijuana.

When I told my friends this year that I was going back to Tijuana for spring break, they all told me to "be careful," and "don't die." Surprisingly, my parents were super relaxed compared to last year, they didn't seem worried at all like they were before, but my friends definitely had negative things to say about Mexico. This seems so crazy to me because I studied abroad last semester in Scotland for 4 months, and not once did anyone tell me to be safe - instead, they were really excited for me (even though I was almost hit by a train in Berlin, and I ran into some creepy characters in Poland). Now, I know that Scotland doesn't have the reputation that Tijuana does, but I did everything all by myself. It's interesting to think of the different reactions I received. I was in Europe for 4 months, and only in Tijuana for 7 days. I realize that it's what we hear about Tijuana in the news that makes people so nervous - but honestly,  (as Rachel D. says) people make it sound like a warzone here, which is actually ridiculous. The most danger I've been in here is the chance of getting hurt at the work site. I've honestly felt more unsafe in parts of Columbus than I have in Tijuana.

One of the first nights in Tijuana, Eduardo told us that his son was considering going to high school in the US. Eduardo shared that, as a parent, he's very nervous about sending his son to America for high school because he hears all about the school shootings that have been happening. Though I didn't voice it, I became defensive - yeah, we have a problem with that lately, but it doesn't happen everywhere or all of the time. Then I realized that the generalizations that Eduardo made about our country are the same generalizations that we make about his country. Does Tijuana have a drug problem? Yes. Does that mean that everyone is involved? No. In America, we don't hear about the positives of Mexico - we only hear about the guns, and the violence. So, we assume that all Tijuana is is guns and violence. All Eduardo hears in his news about America is about the gun issues and school shootings. Is that all America is? No. There are many amazing things about the US, and should Eduardo write it off just because of the recent violence? No. So why do we write off Tijuana?

We leave tomorrow, and I'm definitely excited to see my family but I'm also sad to leave. In Tijuana, the sense of community, the love for each other, and the compassion for life that the people have is incredibly refreshing to be around. Tijuana makes me realize that the boys, the homework, and the "drama" that I complain about to my friends at college is really, reallyyyy pointless. The material items don't matter to me when I'm in Tijuana. I really love the person I am when I'm here, and I'm hoping I can continue living with this attitude when I return to Ohio tomorrow.

Also, the pregnant dog at our work site had her puppies today! There were ten of them when I left. Definitely the best way to end this week!

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